VW brand posts record global sales in 2011, aided by U.S. gains
Sales chief sees ‘challenging' year ahead
The revamped Passat -- built at a new Tennessee plant -- helped the VW brand's U.S. sales advance 26 percent in 2001. It was the biggest gain for the VW brand in the United States since a 44 percent increase in 1999.
FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen AG said sales of its core VW brand rose to a record 5.1 million last year, helped by the biggest gain in U.S. demand in more than a decade.
The automaker's global sales increased 13 percent. The U.S. tally of 324,402 sales accounted for 6.3 percent of the worldwide total. Last year's 26 percent gain was the sharpest for the VW brand in the United States since a 44 percent advance in 1999.
The carmaker's sales chief, Christian Klinger, sounded a note of caution, however, saying in a statement today that the market environment will remain "challenging" in 2012.
Earlier in the week, Volkswagen Group of America CEO Jonathan Browning said he expected 2012 to be a strong year for U.S. sales despite the global volatility. He forecast total industry light-vehicles sales of 13.5 million to 14 million, up from 12.8 million last year.
VW aims to outpace the industry with double-digit sales growth annually over the next few years in a bid to hit a yearly U.S. sales target of 1 million vehicles by 2018. That goal includes 800,000 VW-brand vehicles and 200,000 Audis.
The VW brand's U.S. sales peaked in 1970 at 569,182 units. Audi set a U.S. sales record last year with deliveries of 117,561.
VW's annual sales in China were the strongest for a single market, with deliveries of 1.72 million cars, a 14 percent increase over the previous year.
Growth in emerging markets proved particularly strong last year. In India, brand sales grew 151 percent to 76,100 units. In Russia, sales more than doubled to 118,000.
And despite a general slump in European car sales, the VW brand sold 1.72 million units in the region, a rise of 11 percent that helped it outpace an overall market that grew just 3.6 percent.
Christina Rogers contributed to this report.
You can reach David Jolley at firstname.lastname@example.org.